GeoPalz pedometer, online game aims to motivate kids to get moving

The founders of Jibbitz are hoping lightning will strike twice as they embark on a new venture to get kids active with GeoPalz, a decorative pedometer and online game that allows users to earn points and prizes through physical activity.
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The founders of Jibbitz -- those decorative shoe charms for rubbery clogs -- are hoping lightning will strike twice as they embark on a new venture to get kids active with GeoPalz, a decorative pedometer and online game that allows users to earn points through physical activity.

Aimed at addressing Michelle Obama’s LetsMove.gov initiative (www.letsmove.gov), kids can track their steps and log them at GeoPalz’s website (www.geopalz.com) to redeem activity-oriented products. With a message of “Walk to Win,” prizes include Frisbees, jump ropes, baseball bats, footballs, as well as bikes and skateboards.

“We’re trying to get kids off the couch and out moving around and trying to educate them at the same time,” Rich Schmelzer, CEO of GeoPalz, told SNEWS®. “The (pedometer) was designed specifically to get kids motivated to become more physically active by converting activity into currency that can be redeemed for activity-based products from our website.”

After Schmelzer and his wife, Sheri, sold Jibbitz to Crocs in 2006 for $10 million, they took a couple years off to spend time with their kids – a son, 7, and two daughters, 9 and 12. He said they soon saw a trend that they didn’t like:

“It became obvious that the kids were spending way too much time online and on the TV,” he explained.

When they encouraged their kids to be more active outside, they met resistance, and it became apparent that they needed a hook to motivate them.

“Our key is, we dangle a carrot in front of them which is a free product with the more steps they take, the more prizes they can win,” Schmelzer said of the GeoPalz’s concept.

Available in May on its website and at retail, GeoPalz has 12 different pedometer styles, from a ladybug and a heart to princesses and skulls. Every quarter, it plans to introduce 12 new limited-edition designs -- “whatever is trending at that time,” he said -- and discontinue the previous production. Pedometers retail for $19.99 and include registration on the website.

Users will be able to log their activity on the GeoPalz website, and parents can receive weekly progress report emails with related trivia, like the number of steps in a mile and facts about food, they can share at the dinner table with the family.

“It’s a talking piece for the parents to get them more involved in the children’s activity,” he said.

GeoPalz hired Slice of Lime (www.sliceoflime.com), a strategy, design and development company in Boulder, Colo., that helped launch Jibbitz, to tweak the product and website for a kid’s eye. But the Schmelzers also have their own built-in focus group, incorporating their children’s feedback into the product and website design.

“The design element is huge. They’re definitely eye candy,” Schmelzer said. “People our age don’t see design and colors like a kid sees it. It’s a completely different world.”

--Wendy Geister

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